These reviews are based on samples provided by the winery or organization acting on their behalf.



2010 Cairdean Estate Merlot

2010 Cairdean Estate Malbec




Cairdean – Scottish Gaelic for friends



This #winechat was a little different than all the previous ones.  For this week’s version, I was allowed to select two wines from a list of 6 that I’d like to sample during the chat.  Even though the Unoaked Napa Valley Chardonnay and Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon caught my eye and initial interest, I decided to slip “outside the box” for my choices.


Even though I have a reputation for not liking Merlot, I do like “good” Merlot.  Most of my negative comments on Merlot deal mainly with the once available for a Tuesday evening dinner at home, in the $12 to $20 range, Merlot wines leave me feeling like Miles from Sideways.  A good Merlot from Napa Valley fruit and a small, up and coming winery sounded perfect.  There, the first wine was selected.


The next wine that caught my eye was a Napa Valley Malbec.  I’ve had Napa Valley wines with some Malbec in the blend, but I don’t think I’ve ever had a Napa Valley wine starring the Malbec grape.  There, the hard part was over, I had made my choices.


For the record, here were the wines I had to choose from:

2011 Napa Valley Unoaked Chardonnay

2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay

2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

2010 Napa Valley Merlot

2010 Napa Valley Malbec

2012 Haley Margaret






The Winery – Their Story

Cairdean Estate is the vision of husband and wife Edwin and Stacia Williams.


While working in the software industry on the East Coast outside of Boston, Massachusetts, Stacia developed a strong appreciation and passion for wine.  She made her first vintage in harvest of 2000, shipping in winegrapes from California through a local beer and wine hobby shop.  She met Edwin, an aerospace engineer, shortly after her first vintage.  Edwin being from Fresno, California was immensely interested in her winemaking project and educated her about the world-renowned Enology and Viticulture program at Fresno State.  After years of planning, Edwin and Stacia moved to Fresno with their two children so that Stacia could go back to school and earn a degree in Enology & Viticulture from Fresno State.


During Stacia’s time at Fresno State, she and Edwin planned their future together and knew that they wanted to work together and build a family business managing vineyards and making wine.  They had travelled the world together with their children in search of where they would land, but their hearts always belonged to Napa Valley – the first wine country they ever visited as a couple back in the year 2001.


After much searching for their home in Napa Valley, it was their elder son Kyle that led them to the quaint town of St. Helena.  He was entering high school and very much wanted to attend the public high school there.  In their searches for land that would allow a quintessential wine country lifestyle, they settled on a beautiful 50 acre parcel right on highway 29 in Saint Helena just north of downtown.


After relocating from Fresno to St. Helena in 2010, Edwin and Stacia embraced their vision and created Cairdean Vineyards.  Cairdean is Scottish Gaelic for friends, which reflects their belief that wine is meant to be shared by those held close to your heart.  The Cairdean symbol is a representation of that belief with the four hearts always present and brought together in the center by friendship.


Much more information is available on their website by clicking here.






About Winechat

#winechat is a weekly, Twitter based discussion about something dealing with the world of wine.  Generally, each week’s chat session deals with a specific theme and is lead by an “expert” in that area.  This is generally a nice way to learn about a region, winery, type of wine, etc.



What is #WineChat?  Click here to learn more.



How do you join #winechat? Using a tool such as Hootsuite, log into your twitter account & follow the #winechat stream. Be sure to include #winechat at the end of each tweet so everyone in the stream can see you!


Grab a glass and join in!


The #winechat schedule is available on their Facebook page by clicking here.


#winechat is hosted by Protocol Wine Studio.  For more information on them, click here.




My line up for this event included these two wines like I mentioned earlier:

Cairdean Line Up

Cairdean Line Up




2010 Cairdean Estate Merlot – SRP $42.00

This is a blend of 81% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Malbec and .5% Petite Verdot


Perfectly placed on a south facing slope in Carneros~Napa Valley from a family-run vineyard, this wine comes from a block that consistently produces stellar wines.  The naturally low pH and higher acid from this site makes for a winemaker’s dream in the cellar, and a wine that is both food-friendly and age-worthy.  After blending with some lower acid wines to balance the palate, this wine was bottled without filtration.


The wine was aged in 40% new French oak barrels.  There were 492 cases of this wine produced.  This has 14.9% alcohol by volume and the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a fairly deep ruby color.  The sexy and inviting nose has cherries, crushed stone minerals, crushed berries, dark bittersweet chocolate, licorice, mint and blueberry.  This has medium to full body with moderate to solid tannins and very good acidity.  Cherries, berries and minerals coat the palate, eventually allowing dark chocolate and mint to slip into the picture.  The finish is very long and nicely layered with fruit and savory notes taking turns grabbing the spotlight.  This has outstanding balance and will be even better down the road.  This one can easily rest in the cellar for a decade, maybe more.  This is easily one of the better Merlots that I have had in several years.  (94 pts)

2010 Cairdean Estate Merlot

2010 Cairdean Estate Merlot




2010 Cairdean Estate Malbec – SRP $40.00

This wine is a blend of 87% Malbec and 13% Petite Sirah.


This Malbec comes from the Browns Valley area of the Napa Valley from a very small family-owned vineyard.  Only 6 barrels were produced from this site.  This wonderfully fruity varietal is so often overlooked as a single bottling, so it is always a pleasure when one is good enough to make the cut.  A light amount of new oak helps hang on to that fruit and really lets the fruit take center stage.  By blending in a little Petite Sirah we were able to bring more structure to the wine and balance the fruit with present, but not overpowering tannins.


The wine was aged in 20% new French oak barrels.  Production was only 173 cases.  The final alcohol is 14.2% by volume, the bottle is sealed with a natural cork.


My Tasting Note

The wine is a medium to deep ruby red color.  The enticing nose has raspberries, blackberries, dusty minerals, mint, scorched earth, licorice and dried violets.  This has a medium body with soft to moderate tannins and good acidity.  On the palate the red fruits and mint jump out initially with minerals and some darker fruit coming in on the backend.  The finish has good length and isn’t quite as intense as the palate with the flavors leaning a bit more on the savory elements with the fruit providing nice back ground sweetness.  Probably not one to stash in the cellar for the long term, but this will provide a lot of enjoyment over the next 4 to 6 years.  (90 pts)

2010 Cairdean Estate Malbec

2010 Cairdean Estate Malbec




Closing comments

Even though I only tried the two wines listed above, all of the wines were sampled by other participants.  For other’s descriptions it sounded like every wine in the lineup was outstanding.  I can state for a fact that I was very impressed by this young winery.  The Cairdean Merlot I tasted was truly a world-class wine.  I highly recommend checking out this winery.  If they keep up the quality, they will become a shining star of the Napa Valley.




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Notes – I use the “official” Cellar Tracker name for the wines.  I use Cellar Tracker to help manage and organize my cellar.  I highly recommend checking it out at  Loading you existing cellar is a lot less intimidating than it would first appear.  There is a good chance 99% of your wine is already in the system, so you generally only need to enter part of the wine’s name and the system will find it for you.



Prices noted are the prices I paid at the time of purchase.  I don’t shop around to find the best prices, but my local store is usually VERY competitive.  I generally get case discounts, and since I work there part time, I get a 5% discount.  Wines purchased direct from a winery do not include any shipping charges.  None of the prices include the sales tax.



All wines that were sent to me free of charge to sample will be noted and I will show suggested prices when available.